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Grey’s Anatomy Season 20 Can’t Kill Off Teddy Without Bringing Back This Character

Grey’s Anatomy season 20 can’t kill off Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) without bringing back one key character from the show’s earliest seasons. The Grey’s Anatomy season 19 ending saw Teddy, Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital’s newly minted Chief of Surgery, collapsing en route to an OR. In the episode’s final moments, thrill-seeker Sam Sutton’s (Sam Page) aorta fully transected, prompting Teddy to prepare for surgery. However, before Chief Altman was able to perform a thoracotomy or cross-clamp Sam’s aorta, Teddy became Grey Sloan’s latest patient — a moniker she definitely didn’t intend to add to her list.

In an ironic twist of fate, the cardiothoracic surgeon’s toothache developed into an apparent cardiac event: potentially endocarditis, a heart sepsis that stems from dental infections, or heart spasm, which can present as jaw pain in women. With most of Grey Sloan’s senior doctors across the country for the Catherine Fox Awards, Teddy’s condition post-Grey’s Anatomy season 19 cliffhanger could be touch and go. Although Raver might’ve renewed her contract, Teddy Altman’s fate is still up in the air, which opens the door for the crucial — and much-needed — return of Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh).

Before Teddy Leaves Grey’s Anatomy, She Should See Cristina One Last Time

A Cristina & Teddy Reunion Before The Final Curtain Call?

Teddy makes it clear that she’s no Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington).

Introduced in season 6 as Owen Hunt’s (Kevin McKidd) surgeon pal and fellow vet, Teddy Altman became the third major cardiothoracic surgeon attending in Grey’s Anatomy. Right off the bat, Teddy makes it clear that she’s no Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington). To Cristina’s surprise, Altman makes risky, in-the-moment calls due to her experience as an Army surgeon. Owen, who’s dating Cristina when Teddy arrives at Grey Sloan, insists that Altman is a “gift” for Cristina — exactly the kind of risk-taking, unconventional mentor she needs. Aside from Owen, Cristina becomes Teddy’s closest friend at Grey Sloan.

While Altman and Yang make a near-flawless surgical team, it’s their deeper connection that makes them a memorable pair. Other attendings are unwilling to challenge Cristina, but Teddy puts Yang’s talent aside when necessary. Given just how intertwined Teddy and Cristina’s stories were during Grey’s Anatomy seasons 6 through 8, Altman’s potential departure from the show would feel incomplete if she wasn’t able to see Cristina again. The Grey’s Anatomy Teddy cliffhanger is great news for Winston Ndugu (Anthony Hill), the new head of cardio, but if Teddy’s cardiac condition worsens, she needs the closest thing to herself: Cristina.

Grey’s Anatomy Introduced Teddy Altman As Cristina Yang’s Perfect Mentor

The Mentor Cristina Yang Needed and Deserved

Impressed by Cristina’s natural talent, Teddy takes a shine to her pupil. Of course, that doesn’t mean the head of cardio and Yang don’t have disagreements. Altman feels Cristina can’t solely rely on her talent. Confidence like Yang’s can be blinding and, for a heart surgeon, dangerous. Cristina’s best mentor on Grey’s Anatomy, Teddy is part of the reason Cristina grows into a top-notch surgeon. When Teddy’s husband, Henry, dies during surgery, she assures Cristina that it was an unavoidable outcome — namely because Cristina’s approach perfectly mirrored what Teddy would’ve done.

If Teddy needs a complicated surgery down the line, there’s clearly only one person she’d trust.

Based on Raver’s contract renewal, it seems like Altman will survive the season 19 cliffhanger, but there’s still a chance that Teddy could be dealing with a chronic condition. Altman is one of the few series regular doctors who hasn’t been admitted to the hospital for an injury or life-threatening condition. That alone is reason enough for Grey’s Anatomy to explore the thread further. If Teddy needs a complicated surgery down the line, there’s clearly only one person she’d trust. Regardless of whether Grey’s Anatomy season 20 is closing out Teddy’s story, reuniting Altman and Yang is a must.

Cristina’s Return Can Satisfyingly Conclude The Teddy, Cristina & Owen Triangle

Cristina Back to Grey Sloan?

From the moment Teddy Altman was introduced as Owen’s best friend, the relationship caused friction in the Cristina-Owen-Teddy triangle. At first, Owen didn’t tell Teddy about Cristina, leading to some rather awkward moments, including Teddy’s emotional reckoning with the fact that Owen might not be her eventual husband. Of course, Teddy’s hunch ends up being correct over 10 seasons later. Currently, Teddy and Owen are married with two kids, Leo and Alison. In the wake of Teddy’s pre-nuptial cheating scandal with Tom Koracick (Greg Germann), there’s no reason to think the happy couple will split.

Still, it was a long and winding road to getting hitched, especially for Owen, who kept marrying women before asking if they wanted kids. There’s no question: Owen and Cristina are over as a couple. While there’s no need for Cristina’s reappearance to cause any romantic friction, it’s an interesting dynamic reversal; now, Teddy and Owen are a married couple. If Teddy’s cardiac condition warrants expert treatment in Grey’s Anatomy season 20 or beyond, Cristina’s return poses a welcome way to close out not just Cristina and Owen’s arc, but Yang and Altman’s former student-mentor relationship.

Grey’s Anatomy season 20 will premiere on Thursday, March 14

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